With a plethora of senior living options available today, selecting the right arrangement for your loved ones can be a daunting task. This is especially so when severe, time-sensitive medical conditions come into play. Both assisted living and memory care communities provide supportive care to individuals with a variety of health issues. However, memory care communities cater specifically to seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related issues.
When weighing your options and deciding whether a senior living community with memory care program may be better for your situation, here is what you should know about assisted living and memory care communities.
While activities organized by assisted living communities aim to keep residents entertained and amused, the activities in memory care communities are specifically designed to engage residents with unique cognitive needs. These purposeful activities are age-appropriate, failure-free, and are adapted to suit the residents’ abilities and attention spans. Memory care communities aim to create environments that help residents to preserve and rebuild what their affliction has taken away from them.
Security and Safety Measures
Assisted living communities do not enforce the same set of safety and security measures that are in place in memory care communities. As such, an assisted living community might be unsuitable and unsafe for a senior with advanced dementia. Memory care communities are specially equipped with additional safety features such as door alarms, and assistive technology such as motion-sensor lights and touchless faucets. These special environmental modifications aim to allow residents to have a safe yet self-reliant living experience.
Specialized Facilities and Amenities
Many assisted living communities offer amenities and facilities that cater to the personal and entertainment needs of their residents. These amenities include gyms, beauty salons, library, game rooms, and outdoor spaces like courtyards. Other services like housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and round-the-clock healthcare are also provided.
Memory care communities usually feature many similar amenities. However, the community will include more environmental adaptations and specially designed features such as clearly defined common areas, memory boxes placed outside the residents’ doors, and color-coded walls that are designed to help guide and orient residents with advanced memory issues.
Certified Staff Training
Assisted living and memory care communities usually share similar staff such as nurses and nursing assistants. However, staff in memory care communities have to undergo extensive training in order to gain experience in managing individuals with dementia-related illnesses. They have to be trained to handle residents with anxiety, irritability, swallowing difficulties, or deal gently with those who have a tendency to wander.
Non-medical employees like administrators and housekeeping staff working in memory care communities are also required by most states to attend further education classes and training to help them understand the neurology of individuals with dementia. These staff are also equipped with skills and knowledge to support their residents.
In addition to providing three meals a day in a vibrant social setting, memory care communities offer customized diets that are tailored to their residents’ preferences while ensuring that their calories intake and nutritional needs are met. The residents are also offered an assortment of cuisines paired with adaptive dining utensils and fine ware that allow them to exercise autonomy during their meals. Such dining setups help to promote a sense of independence and maintain the residents’ dignity. Memory care communities also have mealtimes at regular timings each day. This creates a routine that makes for a calm and reassuring dining environment for the residents.
Making Your Choice
The ultimate choice of going with an assisted living or a memory care community thus depends on an individual’s level of independence. After an evaluation by a staff member to determine the level of care they require, your loved ones with early signs of dementia who can function independently and require minimal assistance may be suited with an assisted living arrangement. On the other hand, individuals who require extensive support, struggle with daily functions, or feel afraid and lonely in their homes, would likely fare better in memory care communities.
At the end of the day, we all want the best for our loved ones. Regardless of whichever program is more suitable for you or your loved ones, be sure to select a senior living community that has extensive experience in providing support for their residents. At Discovery Village At Tampa Palms, we offer a variety of specialized senior living options that cater to a range of needs. For more information on our senior living options, contact us today to find out more.